Tag Archives: women riding

Where’d the Blonde Cowgirls Go????

Martha on Cactus at the Padlock Ranch in Wyoming--"cowgirl in training."

When I walked into Managing Director Martha Cook’s house this weekend, a question, something along these lines, was posed by Martha’s husband Lantz.

I suppose if we looked at this query from one perspective, we could answer, “Well, redheads are far more fashionable these days.” If we’re comedians by day, we might reply with a wry, “They’re out looking for their brains.” Perhaps if we felt of a philosophical turn of mind, we might surmise that a far more serious kind of seeking was taking place…and we could find them if only we, too, found a “calling.”

Roping practice at the Padlock--do you think the "city duds" give me away?

In this case, we were in fact, never really cowgirls…although I’m flattered to have been labeled one, even by a fellow Easterner. That we had the chance to “play” the part, to keep our bottoms in a saddle most of our waking hours, to think like a cow and “eat like a man” (I don’t think diets are necessary when you’re working that hard), and wear a hat, hold a horn, and swing a rope like the “real deal” just might…well, that was just amazing. Amazing in the way a dream sequence might play out…even more so now that several weeks have gone by and I’ve been able to perfect my own performance in the role in my head.

I’d tell you some good stories, but I fear there’s enough film and camera footage on this blog to expose me as an individual prone to exaggeration…albeit glorious in detail and drama.

She's gone "English"--with Clarke this weekend, and looking nothing like a cowgirl, alas.

Martha and I had a chance to sneak in a ride on Sunday morning. It was a long weekend, and one spent by most cleaning up and digging out from the devastation left in Hurricane Irene’s wake. There were many opportunities to volunteer, help, and get muddy alongside friends and community members (our towns were amazing in their ability to organize and inform–thank you!) And it just felt good to be on a horse, moving over the mud instead of through it, for a little while. In honor of the GMHA 100-Mile Ride, which was canceled due to the GMHA grounds’ extensive damage, we trotted along the trail for a bit, thinking of those who should have been…or would have been….riding those same miles had Irene stayed off the coast instead of swinging inland.

Perhaps a few were blonde cowgirls.

Maybe they’ll be back next year.

Martha and Buster after our Sunday ride, East Coast Time.


Day Three: Holdin’, Headin’, and Hurtin’ (But Not SO Bad!)

Today was our first “full day” at the Padlock, although our third in Wyoming. We awoke to French toast and sunshine (Steve’s wife Kristin does all the cooking…don’t even get me started on the chicken pot pie we had for dinner tonight). Marvelous.

I guess with consistency in mind and perhaps even kindness, Martha and I were once again assigned the same four-legged partners we had yesterday. Copper and Blanco have now had 48 hours to decide whether or not they will put up with our East-Coast ways–and I must say, bless them, they chose to be benevolent souls and carried us through the day with little complaint and a whole lot of downright reliability.

We had a task of sorts today, and that was to ride through the 10,000-acre pasture (ha ha, you might say, when somewhere in the midst of 500,000 acres) and check out the “replacement heifers” (those that are intended to take the place of non-productive cows in coming seasons) and steers marked for the Country Natural Beef program for foot rot–which has been described to me as something akin to athlete’s foot.

It took some time and navigation of steep (yet beautiful) terrain to find our first lot of heifers and steers (at which point Martha and I both exclaimed, “Cows!”…yes, that would indeed identify us as the “dudes” we are). But we were in for some action. Isaac Johnson (Steve and Kristin’s son) rode through the herd as Martha and I “held” them in the midst of a massive prairie dog town. Note: Two things should be mentioned here–1) “Held” may be putting it strongly…we sat on our horses in a particular position on a hillside, as we were instructed, and I DID move back and forth a few times when a particularly brazen cow started to come my way; and 2) have you ever stood in the midst of a prairie dog town? The sound of the prairie dogs chastising you for your presence is almost deafening, and it is actually hard to find solid ground on which to tread, their holes are so darn prevalent.

Anyway, when checking a herd for foot rot, you move through the cows to get them to get up and walk or trot, basically affording you the chance to check them for lameness–a common symptom. If they appear off, they must be roped and checked and if necessary, given an antibiotic, which means they must be removed from the Country Natural Beef program (you don’t really want that).

Isaac found one that was suspect, and to our greenhorn delight, he and his father had to rope it and check it for the fungus, then mark it and release it–it made for exciting riding in and around Chez Prairie Dog.

There’s really nothing like having a cowboy gallop right by you, hot on the heels of a heifer, so close you can hear the rope whizzing through the air. Amazing, intense, and addictive.

So it only seemed appropriate that after dinner (that delicious chicken pot pie I mentioned earlier), we all meandered down to the horse barn for some roping practice on a wooden dummy (the cows were very thankful). Reata Brannaman, who is good friends with Isaac and Cooper Johnson and lives in Sheridan with her dad Buck and mom Mary, gave Martha and I a first-rate, first-timer’s introduction to the art of holding and throwing a rope. Both of us are pretty bad at the whole activity at the moment (let’s just say we have nothing to brag about and lots to be embarrassed by), but we’re surely destined to get better…

And miracle of miracles, despite the fact that we were on horseback from 8:30 to 4:30 today, and rode over varied terrain and at various speeds, neither of us is too lame to climb stairs, sit in a chair, or get in bed.

It really doesn’t get much better than this…

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What’s a Beechcraft Have to Do with Horses?

Tomorrow we leave at 8 am for Sheridan, which means we are at Boston-Logan at 6:15. For those who know me, they understand that the sleep I manage tonight is due to the exhaustion amounted in the days prior…as much as I love to travel, I HATE to fly.

People are often puzzled by my fear. I am not neurotic (or at least, no one has told me I am). I am fairly daring by nature, even foolish on occasion. I ride ski lifts without pause. I balk not at the flimsy fair rides that visit the local village of Tunbridge, Vermont, every year. I ride horses, for goodness sake.

But flying, oh flying. I count babies and holy men and take a pill and hope for sleep. And that’s on a BIG plane.

Tomorrow we are flying on a Beechcraft from Denver to Sheridan. These planes have propellers. Well, I know most planes have propellers, but these have propellers I can hear and see.

This post will either save me or doom me.

Tomorrow evening, we shall see.

Til the Mint Bar, I hope….I’m thinking of vast ranges and distant horizons….and getting on a horse, from the ground.